The Rebuild Iowa Commission completed its service to the legislature today by issuing a final report about how the state should continue to respond to natural disasters like this year’s tornadoes and floods.
Iowa National Guard Major General Ron Dardis, who served as chairman of the commission, says the 54-page report offers a bold set of recommendations for policy makers to discuss.
"In many ways, this 120 day report carries some mandates for Iowa’s recovery," Dardis said at a statehouse press conference. "We can not rest until we learn the lessons of this disaster and take the necessary steps to keep disasters from devastating our people, our communities, our land and our economy." The report includes a list of 12 recommendations for responding to future disasters, with a host of potential strategies for implementing each suggestion.
Governor Chet Culver could not say how much it would cost to implement all of the recommendations, but believes a large portion of them could be covered with federal dollars. He says the state is already rebuilding 880-million dollars worth of state infrastructure and is doing so entirely with federal money. One of the commission’s suggestions would create a statewide disaster contingency fund, possibly called an Evergreen Fund.
Dardis says it would be separate from the so-called Rainy Day Fund. "What we have realized is that there’s a gap in the funding from our response phase to our recovery phase and when the federal funding starts to flow," Dardis said. "There’s a need out there within our communities for that disaster fund." Culver says the state has already been pursuing many of the commission’s recommendations.
For instance, Iowa does not yet have a statewide, high-tech floodplain mapping system. "We’ve been asking the Feds to help fund that floodplain mapping project for years," Culver said. "We’ve been very low on the list. They’ve mapped other states in the country, but for whatever reason, they didn’t get to us. So, we’ve asked FEMA to bump us up." The commission’s report is available for viewing online via the Rebuild Iowa website .